By Edith Yang
Over 200 people attended a presentation on Oct. 10 at the College Nine and Ten Multipurpose Room on one of the most controversial issues in the world. The presentation, Palestinian and Israeli Historical Narratives, welcomed speakers Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley senior lecturer on Near-Eastern Studies and adjunct professor at Boalt Hall School of Law; and Bruce Thompson, UC Santa Cruz lecturer in Jewish Studies, history, and literature to give their own narratives in their fields of expertise.
This presentation is one of a four-part series titled “Illuminating Dialogues: Palestinian and Israeli Perspectives In A Time of Crisis,” sponsored by the UCSC Chancellor’s and Executive Vice Chancellor’s Offices, Oakes College, College Nine, College Ten, and Stevenson College. Speakers from various fields will continue to give presentations on historical, political, and religious aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the presentations to come.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is between the state of Israel and Arab Palestinians. There were attempts to make two separate states of Palestine and Israel, but power struggles between the two groups have created violent tensions between the two countries.
On Wednesday, Hatem Bazian discussed the history behind the conflict from the Palestinian point of view, while Bruce Thompson talked about the history from an Israeli perspective.
“This guy that spoke tonight, really spoke about Palestinians and the history,” said Carolyn Israel, a Santa Cruz citizen who attended the on-campus event. “And the Israeli guy brought out some points from the Jews without demonizing Palestinians, and the Palestinian guy didn’t demonize or deny Jewish history. So, I think we’re getting a much deeper, better view than what we usually get.”
With such a politically and emotionally heated issue, the speakers engaged in as peaceful a dialogue on the Palestinian-Israeli issue as possible. “The goal of the organizers is to have both sides represented and have them talk to each other, and that’s a good way to introduce oneself to the issues, by having exposure to both sides,” Thompson said to City on a Hill Press. “Not only both sides, but to multiple perspectives.”
The purpose of the series is to give a broader understanding of the subject and to encourage discussion of an emotional and complex issue. Experts in various facets of the subject will be leading the presentations, followed by answering questions in written form from the audience.
Other speakers that will be present throughout the next few events are Yossi Beilin, chairman of the Meretz-Yachad party; Yasser Abed Rabbo, former minister of information for the Palestinian Authority; Mohammed Abu Nimer, assistant professor of the School of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at the American University in Washington, D.C.; Eliyahu McLean, a principal member of the Jerusalem Peacemakers; Souleiman Ghali, Imam and founder of the Islamic Society of San Francisco; Rabbi Shalom Bochner, director of Jewish Campus Life for Santa Cruz Hillel; and Carol Been, ordained Lutheran clergyperson and interfaith organizer from San Jose.
There is hope that emotional issues such as this will be thoughtfully discussed within the Santa Cruz community. “We need to open our ears, open our minds, open our hearts to hearing different perspectives and realizing there may be multiple truth,“ said Rabbi Shallom Bochner, director of Jewish Campus Life for Santa Cruz Hillel. “There may be many wrongs, there may be lots of rights, and I know it is possible [to listen to all].”